Spain’s government has introduced a law banning symbols of the Franco dictatorship. This also applies to Francoist organizations.
MADRID taz | The Spanish left-wing coalition under the socialist Pedro Sánchez wants to criminalize “the glorification” of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. This is what the “Law of Democratic Memory” provides, which was presented after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
As soon as the law is through parliament, symbols of the Franco dictatorship, under which Spain suffered for almost 40 years, will be banned. This applies to the Franco salute as well as to the Spanish flag with the eagle, which was the state flag from 1939 to 1975. Infringements are therefore punished with fines of up to 250,000 euros.
Francoist organizations should also be banned. Above all, the Sánchez government has its eye on the Francisco Franco National Foundation, which to this day honors the dictator and disseminates his ideas with tax breaks. “If necessary, we go to a free country,” said Juan Chicharro Ortega, chairman of the Francisco Franco Foundation.
The new law stipulates that the state will be responsible for exhuming the tens of thousands of victims of Franco’s repression from the civil war and the first few years afterwards, still lying in mass graves across the country. In addition, police officers who were involved in repression and torture, medals and the associated additional pensions are to be withdrawn. The mausoleum in the Valley of the Fallen not far from Madrid, in which the dictator’s body rested until last October, is to become the national memorial for all victims.
Law enables judgments to be annulled
The new law also allows the annulment of judgments of the Francoist judiciary. It is mainly about prisoners who hiked behind bars for their ideas or were even executed, like the poet Miguel Hernández.
The “law of democratic memory” replaces the “law of historical memory”. The paragraphs launched in 2007 by the then Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero have been repeatedly declared to be inadequate by the organizations of the relatives of the victims of Franquism.
Above all, there was a lack of government assistance in the search for mass graves. “The state must carry out the exhumations directly,” demands Malena García, spokeswoman for the Association for the Reclamation of Historical Memory (ARMH). Because “human rights do not have to be subsidized, but guaranteed”.
It is certain that the law will be adopted by parliament. In addition to the ruling parties, the socialist PSOE and the left-wing alternative Unidas Podemos, the Basque and Catalan MPs will probably also vote in favor. Even the right-wing liberal Ciudadanos are unlikely to speak out against it. That leaves the conservative Partido Popular, which vacillates between abstention and rejection, and the no votes of the right-wing extremist VOX. Instead of the “law of democratic memory”, it demanded a ban on all parties with aspirations for independence from the Basque Country and Catalonia.